It’s rehearsal time.
The Anaheim PD officer takes a swig of bottled water and sings a few bars of “Don’t Stop Believin’” to clear his voice.
The camera starts to roll and Shane Spielman, a motor officer in the APD’s Traffic Unit, goes to town.
He welcomes viewers – for now, just his crew of five – to the latest installment of “Ask a Motor Cop.”
Today’s segment will be relatively elaborate, with Sgt. Rick Boyer undergoing no fewer than four costume changes during the nearly nine-minute segment to promote an upcoming motorcycle safety expo.
Watching Spielman as the camera rolls are Karla Santillan, traffic office administrator; Lisa Anguiano, traffic office specialist; Arumi Hernandez, traffic office specialist; and Sgt. Rodney Duckwitz.
After the run-through, Hernandez offers a blunt assessment.
“You’re a little off today, Shane.”
“I know, I’ll get better.”
The team goes through the segment again.
“One-hundred times better,” Santillan tells Spielman. “How do you feel?”
“I need a beer,” he jokes.
By the time the segment goes live on Facebook at 4 p.m. on Oct. 16, Spielman delivers a spot-on performance, injecting his trademark humor as he answers questions from viewers about laws pertaining to traffic.
“See, it was flawless,” Spielman says. “Told you.”
Since debuting in April, the APD’s monthly “Ask a Motor Cop” segment on Facebook has generated quite a following on the agency’s social media channels.
And authorities even think it may be making Anaheim streets safer.
For example, in 2017, there were nine motorcycle-related fatalities in Anaheim. So far this year, knock on wood, there have been zero, Duckwitz says. Collision-related injuries also are down, he adds.
Thanks to “Ask a Motor Cop,” Anaheim residents are becoming more educated about traffic laws and the importance of safe driving.
“Our team is always looking at new ways to engage the community,” Duckwitz says.
The concept for “Ask a Motor Cop” was hatched when Anguiano, a former cadet who has worked in the APD’s traffic unit since 2015, attended a forum on social media hosted by the Orange PD in March 2018
For some time now, law enforcement agencies have embraced social media as a means to push out news to the public and to better engage with the community.
The Anaheim PD, which has its own social media team, has been a leader among digitally driven local public safety agencies, with “Ask a Motor Cop,” whose segments all are posted on YouTube, being its latest success.
One pre-recorded “Ask a Motor Cop” video posted on the APD’s Facebook page that addressed the question of whether it’s legal to change lanes in intersections (it is) garnered some 50,000 views.
After the social media forum at the OPD, Anguiano pitched the concept of a Facebook live feature about traffic to her boss, Santillan, who also is a former APD cadet who has been at the agency for 17 years and has been in her current position since 2016.
“I learned Facebook live was the best way to go, and that video was especially effective,” Anguiano says.
With traffic fatalities and accidents a problem at the time in Anaheim, she and Santillan brainstormed about how to get the word out for motorists and motorcyclists to slow down, and for pedestrians to be more cautious.
The traffic team had posted on social media prerecorded PSAs before on such issues as child seatbelt and pedestrian safety, but never a Facebook live segment addressing those and similar topics.
Then the team came up with the “Ask a Motor Cop” concept.
Unit brass, including Lt. Lorenzo Glenn, loved the idea, and Spielman quickly was tapped to be the star.
“I got chosen because I’m the only one in this detail who would actually do it,” says Spielman, a 25-year veteran at the APD dating back to his days as an explorer. Spielman became an officer in 2000 and has been assigned to the traffic unit since 2004.
“I feel like we get plenty of support here at the APD to run with the ideas we come up with,” Spielman says.
“Ask a Motor Cop” has evolved since its no-frills debut segment, which featured Spielman talking in front of black-and-white curtains in his office. The segments now are filmed in the more visually appealing main section of the traffic unit, with better lighting and sound.
In August, the “Ask a Motor Cop” team received a commendation from the APD from command staff.
“They love it,” Spielman says.
The team also gets a lot of feedback from City Hall.
“Ask a Motor Cop” has no makeup and wardrobe professionals (yet), but the most recent segment had Boyer playing four characters dressed in motorcycle garb loaned to the APD by Cycle Gear and Lifestyle Cycles.
Spielman, who grew up in Anaheim, says he was super shy as a kid.
“The nuns made me quiet and introverted,” he says of his K-12 Catholic schooling.
That’s no longer the case.
“I like to throw a little comedy in there and make it light, because if you just read from a vehicle code book, it’s boring,” Spielman says. “I put things in layperson’s terms as best as I can.”
He adds: “There are a lot of people that have questions about stuff but they’re either too embarrassed or they just don’t know who to ask, and this is a way for them to get their question heard and answered in an entertaining way, as opposed to an adversarial way.
“It breaks down barriers. It shows that we’re human, too, and we like to have fun. I think it has a high entertainment value as far as education goes.”
The Pomona PD reached out to the APD and produced its version of “Ask a Motor Cop.”
The OPD also has expressed interest in doing its own version.
Says Santillan: “This is a great way for us to reach people and interact with them on a regular basis.”
“Ask a Motor Cop” usually airs at 4 p.m. on a Wednesday. The APD promotes upcoming segments on its Facebook page.
The first-ever “Ask a Motor Cop” segment:
August 2018 segment with Sgt. Boyer:
Intersection lane change video: